Look On Up

I have a problem, and it’s one I think I share with a lot of you: I don’t know how to live without my phone. I never had a smartphone until just over a year ago, and now I can’t leave it anywhere for more than a minute or two without freaking out a bit inside. I wake up every morning and the first thing I do is check up on all of my social media. Right before I go to bed, I’m checking my social media. Every time I get a notification, I have to drop whatever it is that I’m doing and check it right away, even if it’s just an email that I’m not even going to look at before trashing. And it’s taking away from real life. I can be in the middle of studying, or a conversation with a friend, or working on a new blog, or pretty much anything can be going on, but as soon as I hear my phone go off, my attention is immediately ripped away. 

I’m not saying that phones are totally evil or anything crazy like that. I’m not even saying we should give up social media. These are good things that help us stay in contact with people that we don’t get to see very often. But there’s something that I remember hearing a lot growing up that I almost never hear anymore: you can have too much of a good thing. It’s good to keep up with the people you care about, but the point of a text, the point of posting things online, the point of the entire internet, is to put things somewhere where you don’t have to check it right away. It will always be there later. But if you’re talking to someone face to face, that opportunity only lasts as long as you’re in the same room. So take advantage of it! Don’t be so caught up in what’s going on “out there” that you totally miss what’s going on right in front of you.

But like I said, I’m just as guilty – or maybe even more guilty – of this than you are. So what am I doing to change this? Well, to start, I’ve turned off the notifications for pretty much everything except for texts. I left badges on for my email, but the only way I’ll see notifications for any of my social media is by opening the app or going to my notification screen. Does this stop me from just going back to the app every 5 minutes to check if I have a new notification? No, but it does stop me from losing my focus when I’m actually working on something and getting somewhere with it, which is kind of the whole point of doing this. 

So will my friends have to wait a little longer to hear back from me when they comment on my post? Yes. Will I have up-to-the-minute knowledge of what my friends across the country are doing? No. But what I will have is better focus on my work, my friends, and what God is doing in the moment. I’d say that’s a pretty good tradeoff. How about you?


Equality vs. Fairness

I don’t have any kids of my own yet, but I have worked in a daycare for more than three years now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about kids, it’s that their absolute favorite phrase when things don’t go their way is “That’s not fair!” Whether it’s because Suzy got a different colored sticker or Connor got a couple of extra minutes on the computer or Drew got to be line leader twice in the span of two weeks, something always “isn’t fair.”  And when those kids see something that doesn’t seem fair, they are definitely not afraid to let me know about it. But what I’ve realized over these past few years is that more often than not, these “unfair” situations really aren’t that unfair – they’re just unequal. The kids have a hard time understanding the difference, and I’m pretty sure that’s because we don’t know the difference either. I honestly don’t know how long it’s been going on, but we’ve been trying to pound it into our kids’ heads for years that everybody is equal. But the truth is, we aren’t all equal. Not that any one person is born better than another, but we are all different, and to try to treat everyone as if they were the same as everyone else does a disservice to everybody. Are there certain situations where equality is needed across the board? Of course! But that doesn’t mean that we need to fight for straight up equality in every situation. Should men and women receive equal pay for doing the same job? Yes! Should men and women receive equal punishment for the same crime? Yes! Should men and women be equal in their responsibilities for raising a child? Well, maybe not. First, a caveat: I am most definitely not implying that men (or women) can slack off and let their partner take the brunt of the effort all the time. What I’m saying is that it won’t be equal. And you know what? It’s not the end of the world. Maybe mom is always the one who changes diapers and dad never does, but he takes out the trash and keeps the baby occupied so mom can get some rest later. It doesn’t need to be a split down the middle type of deal in order to be fair – in this or pretty much any other situation. 

I totally understand why we’ve been trying to push equality, because everybody should be treated equally, right? If everybody treated everyone the same, life would be so much better! I mean, how couldn’t it be? We just want everybody to be treated the same, no matter their color, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical condition, mental condition, financial status, or any other “determining factor” that we tend to separate people by. But then what are we? Faceless crowds being subjected to the needs of the common denominator while having their unique problems and issues left totally unaddressed. 

I mean, think about that for a second. What would life look like if men and women, adults and children, one religion and another, politicians and janitors – what if each one was actually treated exactly the same as the other? We all have different wants, different dreams, different ideas about who we are and what we deserve, so to look for equality in the midst of all of that just doesn’t make sense to me. So the next time you want to complain about your situation being unfair – whether the “blame” lies with the government, your family, your boss, or anyone else – take a step back and look at it from another angle. Make sure that this “unfairness” isn’t really just inequality. And once you’ve done that, realize that inequality isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Then, live your life a little less cynical and a little more happy.